The eyes are arguably one of the most critical parts of the body, acting as one of the five senses and allowing you to process imagery in the world around you. Going completely blind or losing even partial use of your vision is a significant fear for many people and is a reality for a small percentage of the population.
Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness around the world and affects over 3 million Americans. There is currently no cure for glaucoma, and the only way to potentially manage the disease before full blindness is to catch it early. For many years, marijuana has been associated with the treatment of glaucoma, even though mainstream medicine has typically not backed this approach.
According to one study cannabinoids have been found to significantly lower intraocular pressure and have neuroprotective properties. These results illustrate that these naturally-occurring compounds could have the potential to treat glaucoma, which cites high eye pressure as one of its risk factors. Another study done by Indiana University found that in mice, a single topical application of THC significantly lowered intraocular pressure, up to 28%, for 8 hours. This effectiveness is due to the activation of cannabinoid receptors in the brain that are related to eye pressure.
In another study done by the University of Montreal School of Optometry, it was found that in monkeys, an abundance of CB1 and CB2 receptors (which are used in cannabinoid signaling) were attributed to normal vision and overall eye health. These results led the researchers to conclude that manipulating the endocannabinoid system could contribute to the restoration of normal vision or protective measures for the retina.
One of the problems with using cannabis-related treatments in relation to eye health is that the benefits are usually short term. In many people, the maximum window for symptom relief is 6-8 hours. This brief window would require ingesting or applying cannabis products multiple times a day. However, for some, this is a method which proves manageable. In fact, in many states with medical marijuana programs in place, glaucoma is a qualifying condition.
While THC has been shown to aid in the treatment of glaucoma, research is mixed when it comes to CBD and eye health. Some studies have even suggested that cannabidiol could make the condition worse. It is vital to check with your ophthalmologist before taking CBD, particularly if you have existing eye problems.